U.S. Army Europe: Providing Full Spectrum Forces

By Bell, B. B. | Army, October 2004 | Go to article overview

U.S. Army Europe: Providing Full Spectrum Forces


Bell, B. B., Army


U.S. Army Europe's (USAREUR's) strategically postured expeditionary force has been fully engaged in prosecuting the global war on terrorism and in maintaining security and stability within the European Command's (EUCOM's) 93-country area of responsibility (AOR). Transforming and ready, USAREUR continues to project premier forces in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), the Balkans and other contingency operations within EUCOM's AOR. During the summer and fall of 2003, our Southern European Task Force (SETAE) commanded Joint Task Force (JTF) Liberia, a truly expeditionary and transformational operation that helped bring security and stability to that nation in crisis. The relief in place of OIF-1 forces, as a significant part of the OIF-2 transfer of authority, was the largest and most successful deployment/redeployment of forces since World War II. Seventh Army Training Command (7ATC), in conjunction with the battle command training program (BCTP), also developed and executed innovative training methods to train the 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized) for OIF-2. USAREUR planned and conducted unique and highly effective redeployment, reintegration, reconstitution and retraining (R^sup 4^) operations for all units returning from OIF-1. Moreover, since March 2004, the commanding general, USAREUR, has also commanded the NATO Component Command Land Headquarters, Heidelberg, and its wholly separate staff, creating an unprecedented opportunity to harmonize the Transformation of Army forces in Europe with the Transformation of the land forces and headquarters of NATO.

The transformational and agile employment of SETAE in JTF Liberia, our efficient and quick deployment of highly trained and ready forces for OIF-2, our execution of R^sup 4^ operations for OIF-1, and our capacity to link USAREUR and NATO transformation efforts underscore the strategic value of an Army forward and demonstrate our ability to respond to "any mission, anywhere."

During the summer of 2003, USAREUR helped achieve security and stability in Liberia by employing the U.S. Army SETAF, a genuinely transformational standing JTF-capable force, in a truly transformational way. U.S. Army SETAF is a rapid-reaction, Army-led standing task force headquarters optimized for joint operations and capable of deploying within 24 hours. SETAF is the only service headquarters within EUCOM that is certified as a JTF, and its long-established habitual relationships with other EUCOM service components were essential to the JTF's success in Liberia. At its peak, JTF Liberia was composed of 5,000 men and women from the SETAF headquarters, the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, the three-ship Iwo Jima Amphibious Readiness Group, the 398th Air Expeditionary Group, USAREUR's 21st Theater Support Command, and the 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne). Established on July 25, 2003, and disestablished on October 8, 2003, JTF Liberia shaped the interposition of a major regional peacekeeping force of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and provided the support and coercive force to help a host of agencies and organizations bring stability to Liberia.

Significantly, JTF Liberia offers an outstanding example of a transformational approach to the employment of a lean, agile and expeditionary headquarters. The main command post (CP) remained in sanctuary at Longare, Italy, and the forward command post, JOC forward, was positioned afloat on the USS Iwo Jima. SETAF also deployed a field liaison team forward to coordinate with ECOWAS, and it established a forward coordination element at the embassy in Monrovia. This split-based JTF represents an adaptive command architecture, offering many distinct advantages. In sanctuary, the JTF main was essential in keeping EUCOM informed and in conducting near- and long-term planning. This allowed the JTF commander and the JOC forward of about 50 personnel to focus on current operations and to push information garnered back to the main sanctuary CP in Longare.

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